Libertarians are WEIRD

Mark Lutter advances the following thought experiment:

Earth is dying, unable to further sustain human life. Mankind has thrown their last resources into creating a space ship that can reach a habitable planet. However, the space ship can only carry 10,000 people and little is known about the planet beyond gravity and oxygen levels. With the literal fate of humanity lying before us, who do we send and why?

After that, it gets WEIRD (+ ++). In a nutshell, Lutter’s ‘we’, while — apparently in absolute innocence — employed to represent the voice of humanity as a whole, is self-evidently processing the problem in a way that would make no sense beyond its own peculiar thede. ‘We’ could probably all come to the reasonable conclusion that only the Swiss get to survive. (Right?)

In passing, he notes that ‘we’ all agree multiculturalism is a dysfunctional mess: “For all the praise of multiculturalism, no one would seriously bet a diverse group of cultures would give the greatest chance for success. …” (The whole paragraph is a jaw-dropper.)

The main point, however: “Picking a cultural group to colonize a new planet and save humanity forces the mind to focus on positive and negative attributes of the cultural group.” This perfectly exemplifies the weirded out intelligence of libertarians, expressed as a detached universalism wholly incognisant of its own deracination. The obvious rejoinder: No one thinks like that (except you guys). It might be over-compensation to suggest that two-thirds of the world’s population would respond to the total extermination of the Swiss with vague amusement, but it’s at least as plausible as Lutter’s assumption that the good people of Helvetia would be neutrally evaluated, selected, and then cheered on as the sole remnant of ‘humanity’, to such an extent that not being Swiss would be cheerfully accepted as an ethnic death sentence.

This isn’t meant to be any kind of denuciation — it’s very possible Lutter is playing his (weird) audience hard, and doing something subversively dark around the back. As barb-hooked bait for libertarian nuttiness, his post is really something. I can’t wait to see what his comment thread looks like.

ADDED: “I do not believe anything I wrote was terribly controversial …” (At least one of us has to be psychotically dissociated — not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

November 11, 2014admin 20 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Discriminations


20 Responses to this entry

  • Mr. Archenemy Says:

    What kind of racist IS this guy? I mean, is a human future without female genital mutilation really a future worth having? I think he needs a good struggle session.


    hughdecroft Reply:

    Interesting first comment on the linked Less Wrong post:

    “Original paper and Epiphenom post both say ‘Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic’ where you have ‘White, Educated, Intelligent, Rich, and Democratic’. ciphergoth, if the change was deliberate then I’d be interested to know why; if not, I’d be interested in any speculations you have about why.”


    Posted on November 11th, 2014 at 4:19 pm Reply | Quote
  • marklutter Says:

    Thanks for the post. My detached voice comes from being an economist as well as the hope the thought experiment would force people to abandon politics briefly. But perhaps your cynicism is warranted.


    forkinhell Reply:

    Do you think your one Ark spaceship conception perhaps doomed the thought experiment to its conclusion? All the eggs in one basket etc.


    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    My impression is that whether a social scientist says that diversity is a good thing or a bad thing depends on whether you’re talking to an economist or a political scientist. Economists take political stability for granted and focus on gains from trade. Political scientists take the economy for granted and focus on stability.


    Posted on November 11th, 2014 at 5:37 pm Reply | Quote
  • Libertarians are WEIRD | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on November 11th, 2014 at 7:48 pm Reply | Quote
  • We should send the Swiss to space | The Mitrailleuse Says:

    […] post was picked up by Nick Land who expressed shock and bemusement at my tone, though I suspect he agreed with my reasoning. I took […]

    Posted on November 12th, 2014 at 3:22 am Reply | Quote
  • peter connor Says:

    If we were being serious, 2/3 of the colonists would be healthy, certified fertile young women of good intelligence, 1/3 men of the same caliber. But we’re not….


    Aeroguy Reply:

    “Doctor, you mentioned the ratio of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn’t that necessitate the abandonment of the so called monogamous sexual relationship, I mean, as far as men were concerned?”
    “Regrettably, yes. But it is, you know, a sacrifice required for the future of the human race. I hasten to add that since each man will be required to do prodigious… service along these lines, the women will have to be selected for their sexual characteristics which will have to be of a highly stimulating nature”


    Mr. Archenemy Reply:



    Posted on November 12th, 2014 at 3:26 am Reply | Quote
  • Erebus Says:

    Ah, Switzerland! That intrepid nation of explorers and adventurers who, with the indefatigable zeal and ambition characteristic of its people, forged a colonial empire upon which the Sun never set. Oh, wait… that’s England I’m thinking about, isn’t it?

    In all seriousness, has there ever been a European nation less inclined to exploration and colonialism than the Swiss? They’re landlocked & they’ve never had a navy; the Swiss flag didn’t fly at sea until WWII, and that solely due to the fact that the Greek merchant ships they had chartered were confiscated by the British Navy; the Swiss are also a relatively new “culture”, and not an entirely “native” or homogeneous one at that.

    …All the Swiss have going for them is the fact that they’re WEIRD. I can see no other arguments in their favor — yet I can see that there are countless better options. Individual testing of prospective space-colonists for aptitude, genetic diseases, psychological stability, and physical fitness would be preferable, to begin with…


    Chris B Reply:

    What? send us English? great…interstellar communism here we come…


    scientism Reply:

    Let’s be honest, whoever built the spaceship would send their people, and everybody on Earth, except the WEIRDos, would think that fair, because they would’ve sent their people if they’d had a spaceship. What kind of demented individual has a way to survive the apocalypse and doesn’t save his family?

    This could actually be a test for political systems. Is it obvious who builds and owns the spaceship (not “mankind”)? Is it obvious who gets to go in the spaceship? Can everyone else understand the “selection” process? That the UN spaceship would be criticised for not being fair in its selection process is a strike against the UN as a coherent organisation.

    The whole thought experiment is a beautiful demonstration of why “representation” is moronic. Imagine living in a world where not only are you impressed by your elites’ spaceship building skills, but you understand their desire to save their families and take the best people to fill various roles, and maybe you even want them to succeed because you’ve respected them your whole life. You have no expectation of surviving the apocalypse, since you can’t build a spaceship yourself and why the hell would anyone build an spaceship for you? And you certainly don’t care whether the spaceship contains a representative number of people of your race/gender/deviance. That’s a healthy society.

    Societal failure modes include the spaceship builders sending a “representative” selection of people, selecting purely on merit (as opposed to including themselves and their families and selecting the experts they need), and sending the Swiss.

    This gives some idea of the malevolence of “representative” politics. A benevolent society is one where I can understand things on a human scale and in human terms. I don’t expect everything to go my way but I can understand why things generally don’t. A malevolent society is one where everything is decontextualised by abstractions. Is this fair/unfair, equal/unequal, liberal/illiberal, representative, democratic? Does anyone really know? The only thing to do is to air your grievances and grab at whatever you can.


    Aeroguy Reply:

    If family trumps merit, then you’ll find the spaceship threatened with destruction by people insisting that their family be included on the roster. Universalism is dumb, but that means we have to deal with competition and war.


    Scharlach Reply:

    It’s almost as if a general tendency toward ethnic and cultural cohesion is not entirely symmetrical with a general tendency toward exploration and empire building. Who would have thought it . . .


    nydwracu Reply:

    What about the Germans? They got into the game too late to build a serious economically-motivated empire along the British and French lines, but they sure as hell went for lebensraum — and a lot of those Russian explorers were ethnic Germans.

    Geographical determinism can explain the Swiss to some extent. Hill people are hill people, because hills are much more easily defended than anything else: they don’t have to worry as much about getting conquered or meddled with as, say, Poland. Why should the Swiss bother fighting for more land? The mountains aren’t going anywhere.


    Posted on November 12th, 2014 at 6:51 am Reply | Quote
  • Carl Says:

    Nutty, nutty! They’re all so nutty! Not like me. So WEIRD, Ewwwww


    admin Reply:

    Sarcasm with less baby rattling would work better.


    Carl Reply:

    No, YOU’RE the big baby na na na. Oh look, it’s just jokes is all, like if I call you “psychotically dissociated” it doesn’t mean that anyone who disagrees with me is literally insane or anything excruciatingly arrogant like that. Double down why don’t ya? Make yourself really believe it


    admin Reply:

    “At least one of us has to be psychotically dissociated” — isn’t that whine explicitly pre-empted?

    You can make your point without frothing, is all. Lutter certainly manages to. If you can’t be bothered to spend a few seconds composing a sentence with a minimum of style, grace, or wit, why should I be expected to host it?

    Posted on November 12th, 2014 at 10:19 pm Reply | Quote

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